Righetti a coach, a counselor for Giants


Righetti a coach, a counselor for Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Melky Cabrera is the last reportee to arrive in Giants camp, which means that most of the other reasons why the Giants frustrated their fans so much in 2011 are already working toward a sunnier 2012.

This comes as a relief of sort for pitching coach Dave Righetti, who spent an awful lot of his energy last year monitoring for fires from his burdened pitching staff.

Thats not unusual, he lied a bit. Thats been a part of the thing since 2005 or so. The park we play in, the production we got, youre always looking to see if the pitchers are getting frustrated and maybe losing some of the focus they should have.

That much is true; since the end of 2004, the Giants have ranked 29th, 24th, 29th, 29th, 26th, 17th and 29th in run production. And the pitching has operated in a somewhat stark contrast; 17th, 22nd, 9th, 17th, 2nd, first and second in ERA.

But there was a difference in 2011. The Giants had just tasted glory, and had the headlight-sized rings to show for it. But injuries and stunning underproduction from the healthy caused them to score a hideous 570 runs, the ninth-worst in franchise history and the second-lowest in the 162-game era, while the pitchers allowed 578, the third-best in the 162-game era.

It went deeper than that. They were also 120th (out of 129 years) in on-base percentage, 124th in batting average, and 107th in OPS, 96th in walks drawn and third in strikeouts endured. The phrase profoundly inert leaps to mind.

Thus, knowing how good they could be, and how little help they were getting, the pitchers could have become spectacularly petulant. But with the exception of a few dugout snaps, they did not.

Timmy (Lincecum) had one, just a quick one, but the next day he was knocking on my door and apologizing, and he apologized to the team, too, Righetti said. I didnt tell him to, either. He just did it. There were a couple of others I remember, but mostly they were professionals about it.

That the strains could be managed as well as they were could be made a credit to Righetti, but as he typically does, he throws his hands back as though he was in the lead car of a roller coaster heading from the drop.

Hey, theres only so much you can do, he said. They either have that in them, or they dont. I mean, you can tell them, Hey, if youre gonna complain, you better not forget to cover a base, or back up a throw, or Nothing says you cant get a hit and help yourself now and then. I mean, Livan (Hernandez) saved himself a lot that way when he was here.

But ultimately, theres only so much you can do. Either they understand that theyre part of the team, or they dont, and these guys do. And I think it was that way even before we won the World Series.

The Series, though, is what both calmed and could have exacerbated the issue. Winning brings teams closer, and the frustrations of not winning again can tear them apart. Perhaps the knowledge that the injuries could not have been worse if theyd been hand-selected by the Rockies and Diamondbacks helped the pitchers understand the futility of protest.

But other than Pablo Sandoval, the offensive malaise among those who remained healthy was profound. Thus, Righetti did say he monitored a bit more closely, between what they did, how they stood and what they said.

You knew they were getting asked about it all the time, and that made it tougher, he said. Theyd have to figure out if they said I did my job, would that be taken the wrong way? Are you allowed to say that? Or did they have to say, I have to do better next time out, and then you hope they dont start pressing too much?

Plus, the year that (Bob) Gibson had his 1.12 ERA, he lost nine games or something. You think he didnt snap a few times?

Well, yes, Gibson did have that 1.12 ERA in 1968, and he was 22-9, and he could snap with the best players ever. But the Cardinals finished with 97 wins, finished seventh in runs scored, and reached the seventh game of the World Series. These Giants didnt reach the first game of the divisional playoffs.

Different era, maybe, Righetti said with a shrug. Back then, it was a rougher time all the way around, and youd get on a guy a lot harder than you do now. But you can get guys to start complaining and really turn it into a problem. I was proud that these guys pitched better than they did in 2010, and didnt complain about their results.

There is, though, the knowledge that they may have to do it again in 2012. After all, low runs, high angst is among the chapter headings in Bill Neukoms underpublished book, The Giants Way, available in no Giants dugout stores, Barnes and Nobles or anywhere else whatsoever.

In other words, complaining does not change the conditions under which the Giants pitchers will toil this time as opposed to last. They are who they keep saying they are, and its up to the pitching staff to endure what must be endured.

Unless they want to develop a batting champion among them in their spare time.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches


Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in a 98-loss season, general manager Bobby Evans met with members of the coaching staff to discuss new roles. The shakeup of the staff ended up being a stunning one. 

Pitching coach Dave Righetti was one of three coaches to be reassigned Saturday morning. After 18 seasons as pitching coach, Righetti will now serve as special assistant to the general manager. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was given a “special assignment role to assist in pitching evaluations.” Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will be a special assistant for baseball operations. 

The moves cap a 13-month run in which the coaching staff has taken much of the blame for a $200 million roster that was poorly constructed in places and played embarrassing baseball for long stretches of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Third base coach Roberto Kelly was let go after the 2016 season and first base coach Billy Hayes was reassigned. More changes appear on the way. 

“It does raise the level of attention to change when you struggle as much as we have, but you’re always contemplating making changes to try to help keep pushing your guys and make sure you continue to have different perspectives and new voices and reflections on how to get the most out of them,” Evans said on a conference call. 

Throughout September, multiple coaches expressed concern about their future roles, but the Giants held off several weeks before announcing changes. At least two members of the staff were involved in managerial searches elsewhere, and third base coach Phil Nevin is reportedly still a candidate for the open job in Philadelphia. 

Evans confirmed that he has interviewed outside candidates for a hitting coach role, but he would not go so far as to say Hensley Meulens will be reassigned as well. He also would not speak to the future of Ron Wotus, although the longtime bench coach is expected to be mixed up in future changes as well. Evans indicated he would announce further moves after all the open managerial vacancies are filled.

For now, the Giants are in the process of trying to find a new pitching coach. They are focused on experienced outside candidates, and they have plenty of options, as several other teams have made changes this month. Evans hinted that he wants the next pitching coach to have a more analytical approach. 

Righetti's replacement will have massive shoes to fill. His run was the longest for a pitching coach in franchise history. The Giants, usually so reliant on pitching, finished 16th in the Majors with a 4.50 ERA, but it’s hard to see how Righetti takes the blame for that. Madison Bumgarner missed a chunk of the season after a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto had a brutal injury-plagued year, Matt Moore battled himself and had the worst ERA in the National League, and the bullpen struggled, with closer Mark Melancon pitching through an injury that required season-ending surgery. 

Righetti was credited with helping to develop a rotation and bullpen that won three titles, and the bond he shared with pitchers was on display during the final weekend of the year, when Matt Cain talked repeatedly about their close relationship and went straight for Righetti after he came off the field for the final time. While it’s often hard to figure out where to give credit, even in a down year for the staff, Righetti played a role in Sam Dyson’s resurgence, and he helped Ty Blach and Chris Stratton break in as big league regulars. 

“Ultimately a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity just to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights that we aspire as an organization and a club,” Evans said. “Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and I think that was really the priority here.”

Righetti will help Evans in a front office role. Evans admitted that Righetti’s “heartbeat is in uniform as a coach,” but said he was willing to take on a new role for an organization he loves. 

Gardner, a former Giants pitcher, had been on staff since 2003. He will now help to evaluate pitchers inside and outside the organization, and Evans said Gardner could serve an important role in evaluating trade options. Decker joined the big league staff in 2015 after a long run working in the minor leagues. The 2017 season was his 23rd with the organization. He will have a “blank canvas,” Evans said, working in different roles inside the organization. Decker will also help with draft preparation.